Sci-Ed Update 239
How the gut wall affects the shape of poop, a body-part pirate, love as a teaching strategy, and more stories in this update!
How Diet Builds Better Bones: Surprising Findings on Vitamin D, Coffee, and More
Diet research is always messy, and study results on nutrition and bone health have been wildly inconsistent. But gradually some clarity is emerging. As we draw up resolutions for what to eat in the coming year, it's useful to look at new data on vitamin D, as well as recent research on coffee and other foods.
Read more→ AandP.info/7yz
Megan Hess, owner of Donor Services, is pictured during an interview in Montrose, Colorado, U.S., May 23, 2016 in this still image from video. REUTERS/Mike Wood
Former Colorado funeral home owner sentenced to 20 yrs for selling body parts
A former Colorado funeral home owner was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Tuesday for defrauding relatives of the dead by dissecting 560 corpses and selling body parts without permission.
Read more→ AandP.info/ts1
Image: Mohamed Hasan CC0
The Future Is Here
Chances are you’ve heard about ChatGPT by now. It’s a chatbot released in November that, having been fed a steady diet of digital text from the internet, can turn out decent copy. Enter a prompt and it spits out a few paragraphs in response. The more detailed your prompt, the more specific the writing.
You can see where this is headed. A writing assignment asks students to compare and contrast feminist themes in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Yup, it can do that. A political science exam requires short-essay responses to questions around the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. Check.
Is the writing captivating? No. Is it coherent? Mostly. So what does this all mean for teaching? That’s one question I set out to explore when I wrote about ChatGPT last month. I’d like to dig in here to some of the ideas that I heard from digital-literacy experts, writing instructors, and teaching and learning specialists.
Read more→ AandP.info/ts1
The rate of disruptive scientific breakthroughs has slowed in recent decades, researchers found. GETTY
Despite surges in fields like AI, medicine and nuclear energy, major advances in science and technology are slowing and are fewer and farther between than decades ago, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday, stagnation researchers say must be reversed to combat some of the most pressing problems—like climate change—facing humanity today.
Read more→ AandP.info/n9t
Image: PXhere CC0
Love as a Classroom Strategy
6 Paths to Bring Resilience, Belonging, and Encouragement into Your Teaching—and Watch Students Flourish
When I was teaching undergraduate and MBA classes in 2021, I set out to find a book that would bring the concepts of culture, resilience, leadership, and psychological safety to life for my students. I’ve been teaching since 1993 and have seen significant changes since the COVID-19 pandemic—enrollments are lower, students’ anxieties are greater, and there’s generally more stress in my classrooms.
When I found Love as a Business Strategy: Resilience, Belonging, and Success (LAABS) by Mohammad F. Anwar, Christopher J. Pitre, Jeffrey F. Ma, and Frank E. Danna, I had a quintessential “aha” moment. I realized that the book’s central tenet—to put people at the center of every business decision—was key to curbing higher education’s retention issues. It wasn’t about creating the perfect curriculum or spending money on school infrastructure. But rather, by adopting the LAABS approach in our classrooms and on our campuses, we can empower people—namely, our students—by including them in conversations and setting them up for success.
KP: Berg gives 6 six awesome strategies in her article. Well worth the read!
Read more→ AandP.info/r3f
Geneticists are working to remove harmful racial categories from their descriptions of human populations.DAVIDE BONAZZI/@SALZMANART
Human geneticists curb use of the term ‘race’ in their papers
Field still struggles with how to accurately describe populations, study finds
Human geneticists have mostly abandoned the word “race” when describing populations in their papers, according to a new study of research published in a leading genetics journal. That’s in line with the current scientific understanding that race is a social construct, and a welcome departure from research that in the past has often conflated genetic variation and racial categories, says Vence Bonham, a social scientist at the National Human Genome Research Institute who led the study.
But alternative terms that have gained popularity, such as “ancestry” and “ethnicity,” can have ambiguous meanings or aren’t defined by genetics, suggesting researchers are still struggling to find the words to accurately describe groups delineated by their DNA, according to the study.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, many geneticists embraced the idea that there were races, such as “Negroid” or “Caucasian,” that were distinct biological groups; such “race science” helped perpetuate discrimination and inequality. (Scientists have now thoroughly demonstrated the lack of a biological basis to racial categories.)
Read more→ AandP.info/ryy
In Episode 130 of The A&P Professor podcast, host Kevin Patton revisits some classic segments from past episodes.
In the first segment, he explains why he thinks storytelling is the heart of effective teaching. Then. he tells a brief version of his actin-myosin love story—a playful analogy to help students learn about muscle contraction.
To listen to this episode, click on the player (if present) or this link→ theAPprofessor.org/podcast-episode-130.html
Exercise Preserves Physical Fitness During Aging: Scientists Are Beginning to Understand Why
Regular exercise is known to have numerous health benefits for people who are aging. Exercise can help to improve strength, flexibility, and balance, which can, in turn, improve overall physical function. Many of the health problems that seem to come with age can be delayed by exercise.
Though the cellular mechanisms underlying the relationship between exercise, fitness, and aging have historically been poorly understood, scientists are beginning to understand them. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of researchers investigated one of the cellular mechanisms involved in improving physical fitness by exercise.
Read more→ AandP.info/4sl
A single cubic wombat dropping positioned by researchers on top of a rock YANG ET AL. 2021
How do wombats poop cubes? Scientists get to the bottom of the mystery
Distinctive intestines mold feces into sharp-cornered poop
To get to the bottom of the mystery, scientists dissected a wombat that had died after being hit by a car. They examined the intestines and found that they contain two grooves where the guts are more elastic, which the team first reported in 2018.
In the new study, the researchers dissected two further wombats and tested the guts' layers of muscle and tissue, finding regions of varied thickness and stiffness. They then created a 2D mathematical model to simulate how the regions expand and contract with the rhythms of digestion. The intestinal sections contract over several days, squeezing the poop as the gut pulls nutrients and water out of the feces, the team reports today in the Royal Society of Chemistry's aptly titled journal Soft Matter.
KP: I think sometimes we take the basic structure and function of the gut wall for granted—not thinking about how it contributes to the shape of our poop. This example from wombats might be an interesting way to begin exploring the topic. Or not.
Dental Hygiene Improves Heart Attack Outcomes
New research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association has shown that patients who receive regular periodontal care have better outcomes after heart attacks, including shorter length of stays in the hospital and more follow-up visits.
The retrospective cohort study included 2,370 patients who had a heart attack in 2017 and who had dental and medical coverage in 2016–2018. The patients were grouped based on whether they had received active periodontal care, controlled periodontal care (periodontal maintenance), regular care such as dental cleanings, or no dental care during 2016–2018. After controlling for other factors, the group who received controlled periodontal care had the shortest length of stay in the hospital following a heart attack, and this group also had more follow-up visits. The group who received no dental care, on the other hand, had the longest hospital stays after a heart attack. There were no significant differences between the other groups and the no-care group.